Friday, June 7, 2013

"Falling Kingdoms" by Morgan Rhodes

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms #1
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.
As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.
The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

I picked up this book Wednesday at Walmart at about ten thirty that morning, and had finished it by about eight that night. I read it in one sitting. It was seriously that good.

I absolutely LOVED this book. Taking place in the mystical land of Mytica – which, I seriously want to throw an 's' in there every time I say it – the three kingdoms of Auranos, Paelia, and Limeros are finally reaching the breaking point in the peace. Elementia, or the basic source of magic keeping the land alive, has all but faded away from the land after the devastating demise of the goddesses Cleiona, the goddess of air and fire, and Valoria, the goddess of water and earth. It has been prophesied that a sorceress has been born that will change the balance of power between the kingdoms. The Sanctuary – the mystical paradise of the Watchers – is fading as the land withers, and the Kindred – the source of elementia – remains missing.

And in the middle of it all are Cleo, the youngest Auranian princess on a quest to save her older sister; Jonas, the rebel Paelian with a need for vengeance against Cleo for standing by and doing nothing to prevent his brother's murder; Lucia, the Limerian princess with hidden gifts and a hidden lineage that deem her to be more than she appears; and Magnus, the heir to the Limerian throne who harbors forbidden feelings for his little sister. Together, they make quite the cast of characters.

The parts I loved most about this book are definitely Rhode's knack for description. Her words brought the people, places and action to life in such an exciting way that I was captivated the entire time. The golden palace of Auranos and its sparkling villas; the chilly snowy terrain setting and humble cottages of Paelia; the barren, icy, rockiness of Limeros and the dark castle residing on a dark hill. I could feel the soft silk of the nobles' cloaks and see the rags of the peasants with nothing. I felt like I was standing in the middle of the war at the end – the bloody, gory descriptions had me slightly gagging, yet I couldn't stop reading.

Though they had their perfections and faults, I deeply enjoyed the characters.

Cleo was just as stuck up as I would imagine a pampered-from-birth princess to be. Along with her royal stubbornness, however, there was also a tender caring side to her when she was around the ones she deeply cared about. Her attitude throughout the book kept her fairly relatable.

Jonas was actually a bit of a let-down, I personally felt. He seemed much more childish that I think a seventeen year old rebel who saw his brother murdered should be. It actually almost seemed like Rhodes wasn't totally sure where she was really going with Jonas for a bit. Thankfully, he became more of the rebel leader I thought he should've been near the end.

Lucia was definitely the sweetest character, being the near-perfect innocent little sister. She cared deeply for her brother, Magnus, and only lived to please. She also definitely had the least expected personality evolution, if you will. Though her words and feelings seem to be fairly innocent, her actions when she develops her powers are quite harsh and she almost seems… evil, going to the lengths she does to please her father.

Magnus is probably my favorite character. Whether it's because he's the tall, dark and handsome prince character or because his is the most scandalous problem that makes him my favorite is yet to be determined. Seeing him hiding his true feelings, watching the thin mask shatter and a newer, stronger one take its place when he's basically rejected – I felt the most for Magnus. I'd really wanted things to be okay for him when his feelings were admitted, and then to see him become so cold really deflated my bubble. But I love him anyways, cold as he is now.

Rhodes did an amazing job preventing this book from being predictable. She also worked in amazing moments that I was not ready for. It's all good, and then something happens that tears you in half. Following that, she sews you back together just to rip you the other way. After taping you back up halfway, she crumples you up and tears you to pieces again. Right when I thought I knew how it was going to go, NOPE. And I'd sit and think, "What am I supposed to do with that?! That's not how it was supposed to go!" It was a welcome change. 

Filled with mystical power, "perilous" journeys, "WHAT? NO!" moments and more blood and gore than I expected, I highly recommend this book. It is an amazing read.

Morgan Rhodes:

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